Chesapeake Shipbuilding, Salisbury, Md., has delivered the 13th 94'x34'x15' Sassafras-class tug to Baltimore-based Vane Brothers Co.

Designed by Entech Designs LLC, Kenner, La., and tasked with towing petroleum barges engaged in the North American coastwise trade as part of the company’s Delta Fleet, Fishing Creek, like its sisters, is powered by twin Caterpillar 3512 Tier 3 engines delivering a total of 3,000 hp. Twin Disc 6:1 reduction gears turn Troost 4-bladed open wheeled propellers. On deck, a JonRie 500 series hydraulic towing winch controls the barges in both towing and pushing operations.

Crew comfort and safety is a top priority for Vane Brothers. An ergonomically designed wheelhouse and an engine room with plenty of headroom are augmented by subtler elements that add to habitability on the boat — soundproofing and insulation, custom joiner work, wider bunks and larger heads, Internet hook-ups, and satellite television. In addition, Rock Wool insulation, over Mascoat, thermal acoustic paint, gives superior insulation and greatly contributes to noise control. Other sound dampening features include soft-core panels and overheads as well as heavy fire-rated doors.

“Frank Basile and Entech gave us such a great design from which to work 10 years ago that we have made very few changes along the way,” Vane Brothers senior port Capt. Jim Demske, who oversees the tugboat construction program, said in a statement announcing the delivery. “And keeping these beautiful tugs similar in construction is a great benefit to our crews, purchasing agents and contracted vendors. The tugs are both powerful and practical.”

In the wheelhouse, the new tug, which is named for a location on Maryland’s eastern shore, is equipped with a full suite of Simrad electronics including Halo radars, gyro and satellite compasses and multifunction GPS and autopilot with touchscreen displays.


Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.